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Madras College, St Andrew's, Fife
The 9am-3.30pm school day is becoming a thing of the past as 24-hour culture reaches the school gates
By day, Madras College has 1,800 students aged 11 to 18. But in the course of the year, around 28,000 people use the school premises, says Tom Bain, service manager at Fife Council.
Whether they are pre-schoolers, Highland dancers or visiting foreign language students, Madras has an out-of-hours slot for them.
Across Fife, 11 of the 19 secondary schools (and a handful of primaries) are designated for "community use". The buildings are run by education staff until 4pm, but in the evenings, at weekends and during school holidays the community services department takes over.
Pressure on public spending is forcing many councils to make more of their assets, particularly underused school facilities. "Swimming pools don't go cold at 4pm," says Mr Herd, a former PE teacher who is now head of community use at Madras.
Sporting activities, vocational classes, children's clubs and courses are put on using sessional staff or tutors from two local colleges. On Sundays, a Baptist church holds services in the assembly hall. Other activities include operatics, clan-gathering and tap-dancing.
In Fife, the primary purpose of the twilight activities is to benefit the community rather than raise revenue for the school. Classes cost pound;1.50 a session, with popular aerobics, for instance, supplementing special-interest accordion. Fees are payable weekly, to minimise the financial commitment, and half-price concessions are available.
Fifteen per cent of the income from classes goes towards heating and lighting costs, with bills shared between the education and community services departments, which also share cleaning and janitorial staff. A full-time head of community use is essential, says service manager Tom Bain, to maintain good relations between the two groups. "You're dealing with a school environment - it must be in a proper state by the morning.
Community groups forget that school is a different culture from, say, a leisure centre, and don't always treat facilities with respect. There are niggles, but nothing major."
The community services department subsidises the scheme to a budget of about pound;120,000 a year. "It's an investment," says Andy Herd. "We can help not only the people who come to the school but their families and friends."
After 14 years running community use at Madras College, his enthusiasm remains undimmed. "There's an honesty and an appreciation about what we're trying to do; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."
Ones to watch
Lewisham London borough looking to pilot 24-hour schools
Sir Geoff Hampton Wolverhampton University's dean of education and champion of open-all-hours schools
Tower Hamlets Out-of-hours learning programme